The Singapore Government clearly
controls Optus, yet their customer service representatives appear to
have been told to distance the company from the growing Australian
outrage over the scheduled hanging of Van Nguyen at dawn on December 2.

A Crikey subscriber emailed the Optus support desk inquiring about the connection, and received the following reply:

Dear Russ,

Thank you for your email.

Optus appreciates that the case of Van Nguyen is a sensitive community issue and a difficult time for all involved in the case.

Optus however has no comment regarding the issue of Van Nguyen.

Optus has and is of no relationship to the Singapore government.

Kind Regards, Ben,
OptusNet Support Specialist

This
is a straight deception. The Singapore Government owns 63% of Singtel,
which owns 100% of Optus. The Singapore Government can’t have it both
ways. If they’re going to hang a small-time Australian drug trafficker
with no priors, their $20 billion-plus exposure to the Australian
economy will suffer, especially with mass-market brands like Optus.

While
the government is probably right not to impose trade sanctions, it’s a
little bit disappointing that they haven’t gently encouraged a consumer
boycott to crank up the pressure.

John Howard could very easily
say: “Look, we’re not going to start imposing tariffs on goods imported
from Singapore but if individual Australians want to switch their
telephone business from Optus to Telstra as a protest then that is a
matter for them.”

Given that Sol Trujillo and Donald McGauchie
are portraying themselves as take-no-prisoners operators, it is
surprising Telstra haven’t launched a big television advertising
campaign. Imagine a script like this:

The Singapore Government owns 63% of Optus
The Singapore Government is about to barbarically hang an Australian citizen
Call 1800 SAVE VAN NGUYEN to dump Optus now and send a strong message to the Singapore Government
Telstra: the Australian owned and controlled carrier which doesn’t execute Australian citizens
.

Sure
it would be controversial, but it would also be very effective and in
the interests of Telstra shareholders. Dollars seems to be the only
language that the Singapore Government understands, so it’s time to
start hitting them where it hurts most – in the Sing Inc balance sheet.